Service announcement

Hello everyone! Sorry I have not been posting. Weirdly for not posting lately I have been really busy with the blog. Thankfully Lauren is keeping up better than I am.

Lauren and I are making some big changes on the back end of the blog. This will eventually lead to some awesome changes on the front end. Unfortunately right now, it just looks a little bit awkward. Bear with us.

Also I have a half finished post on fried chicken wings. That shit is good. Hopefully that will be completed in the next 24 hours. If not, you can call my son and complain to him. It’s his fault.

Happy Hour Craft – Part 1

I’ll admit it…..I really enjoy a cocktail at the end of a long day.  Or a short day. Or any kind of day really. A good drink is just a nice way to unwind in the evenings.  The only problem is that I’m left with empty bottles and no clue what to do with them.  I’m no great environmentalist, but that doesn’t mean that I love the idea of my liquor bottles clogging up landfills.  So I thought that it would be fun to find uses for various items in a new series of crafts based on Happy Hour.  I also expect them to be simple enough that you can successfully accomplish them DURING Happy Hour if you’re so inclined.  Because really….isn’t everything better with wine?

The first of these crafts is so simple that I’m not even sure that you can really call it a “craft.”  It’s more like a two step process that leaves you with a cute soap dispenser.  This one is great for a man (or woman) cave, personalized gift, or even just adding some fun to your guest bathroom.

Supplies:

1) 1 liquor bottle

2) 1 standard pump

3) soap

March 22_Pic 1

Did you know that most standard liquor bottles are the perfect size for your standard soap dispenser pump?  True story! You can find a pump at any home improvement store.  Then, just fill your empty bottle with your favorite soap and screw on the pump.  Voila! Instant gift for the whiskey connoisseur in your life.

March 22_Pic 2

Now if you’ll excuse me, my faithful assistant is informing me that my allotted blogging time is up.  Apparently it is now playtime.

March 22_Pic 3

Quick and Easy Meatballs

DSC_0930

We finally getting our life back together after vacation. The house is clean (ish), we are cooking regularly again and Peanut is back on his sleep schedule. I also finally got a chance to take him to tot time. I try to go pretty regularly to make sure Peanut gets a chance to run around and socialize with other kids. Apparently, it had been too long for Peanut. I debated whether or not to take him since he seemed tired. But decided he would sleep better for it. We were also trying a new place. At first Mason was pretty shy and clung to my leg. After about 30 minutes though he was practically running from activity to activity while throwing his back with a wild, maniacal laugh. Needless to say we will be returning.

Today’s recipe is quick and easy meatballs. I don’t know why but Peanut really loves meatballs. Whenever I am worried he is not eating enough meat I make meatballs since I know they will be devoured in minutes. He is kind of weird kid. If you offer him vegetables or chicken fingers. He will choose veggies – every time. I realize there are worse problems to have when it comes to a child’s eating habits.

Whenever I make meatballs for a potluck I just buy the pre-made ones and make my own sauce. For my family though I try to stick to the homemade kind. The ongredients in the store bought kind bug me. 1. Why are there so many ingredients? 2. Why are so many of them soy?  I have even seen meatballs with high fructose corn syrup. What the what guys? Why is this at thing. These meatballs take 30 minutes so you can throw them together pretty last minute. We have eaten them hoagies, spaghetti and in soups. Make extra and freeze them then you will have them on hand and dinner will even less time.

Quick and Easy Meatballs

Ingredients

DSC_0930

1lb Ground Beef

2 cloves Garlic

 1/4 cup Heavy Cream (Milk also works)

2 Eggs

1 cup Breadcrumbs (Panko is also delish)

1 1/2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Place all ingredients in medium size bowl and mix with hands

2. Form into balls – I made them about the size of a golf ball but you do you. If you make them larger you may need to adjust the cook time.

3. Place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.

4. Bake for 20 minutes.

DSC_0941 DSC_0939

As you can see my kitchen helper is not about that patient life and was ready to dig in.

Non-toxic Spring Cleaning

March 15_Pic 1

Hey there!

Is anyone else loving this warmer, sunnier weather?  I’m so happy that the snow is finally starting to thaw.  The fresh air makes it so much easier to focus on all those things that I’ve been neglecting over the winter.

Now that it’s getting closer to summer BBQ weather, I have to make sure that my house is ready for company and impromtu parties.  And you know what that means?  Spring cleaning.

One thing that I hate about spring cleaning is the nasty, toxic chemicals that are in almost everything.  I want something that will scour my bathroom, but I’d rather not scour my lungs at the same time.  Luckily, it’s so cheap and easy to make really nice cleaning products at home with safer alternatives.  Today, I’m going to share my favorite recipe for a simple bathroom cleanser.

Supplies:

1 cup baking soda

1/4 cup castile soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s)

1/2 cup water

1-2 tablespoon(s) white vinegar

3/4 tsp essential oil (I use tea tree for its cleansing properties)

March 15_Pic 2

Slowly mix together the baking soda, water, and castile soap.  Next, add the vinegar and essential oil.  Pour the mixture into your container of choice.  I personally like to use a repurposed squirt top bottle (dish soap bottle, shower gel bottle, whatev) because it’s easier to use for cleaning.

March 15_Pic 5

The water and baking soda will separate a bit, so just give your container a little shake before using it.  Take that, soap scum!

 

 

Green Smoothies

DSC_0915

Hey Guys! We just got back from vacation and now I need vacation from vacation. We spent a week in Florida visiting my family. It was great to see my family and of course they were excited to see Peanut. But guys, lets be real for moment. The highlight for me was seeing Harry Potter World. If you are fan of the movies/books  and you have the opportunity to go then GO! It was seriously awesome; like walking into the movie. I rode the Hogwarts express and went to Honeydukes. Sorry, my nerd is showing.

Anyways, back on topic. We went on vacation. Peanut got to go to Disney World. For him, the whole vacation was about the Dumbo rode and riding trains. He loves trains. So getting to see and ride so many was really exciting. The one thing we did not do was eat a lot vegetables. So when we came home we really wanted to eat something healthy. B has also wanted me to start making her green smoothies. I was fortunate Kris at The Nerdy Chick lent me her Vitamix to try out. It’s awesome and now on my wishlist.

So today I have two green smoothie recipes. Peanut is obsessed with these smoothies. As soon as I poured the Berry Green Smoothie into a glass he lost his ability to chill.

Pineapple Banana Green Smoothie

Ingredients

DSC_0914

1 Cup Greens (I used a mix of Kale, Spinach and Chard)

1 Banana
3/4 Cup Pineapple Chunks

1/4 Cup Coconut Milk (Almond, Soy or Cows Milk will work too)

6-8 Ice Cubes

Directions:

Wash greens then add everything to the blender. Blend until smooth. Devour.

DSC_0915

Berry Green Smoothie

Ingredients

DSC_0920

1 Cup Greens

1/2 Cup Frozen mix berries

1 Banana

1/2 cup Pineapple

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

4-6 Ice Cubes

Directions:

Wash greens then add everything to the blender. Blend until smooth. Devour.

DSC_0921

Baby Approved!

IMG_7061

Balancing Act

March 08_Pic 2

As I write this post, I’m recovering from jet lag AND daylight savings.  I got hit with this double whammy because I spent most of the week out in L.A. for my company’s Diversity Summit.  The event was actually really wonderful.  I work for a pretty conservative company, but I have to admit that I’ve never been more proud of it than I was this week.  It was awesome to see my company prove its dedication to diversity and inclusion by recognizing so many awesome individuals.  Our teams were recognized for everything from recruitment events for under-served communities to providing education and support services for transgender individuals and their families.  So the severe exhaustion is worth it this time.

One of the sessions that I got to attend at the summit was about “Women in Leadership.”  A large portion of the session was devoted to finding some semblance of work/life balance.  Now, before I jump into a discussion of balance, I want to get on my soapbox for a minute…….

Why is it that career discussions targeted to women are the only times that I ever hear about “work/life balance?”  This actually really bugs me because the unspoken assumption seems to be that things like family and home are “women’s work.”  Why don’t we help everyone find work/life balance?  I’m sure most men would welcome permission to spend more time with their kids, and I’d bet money that having an equal partner at home would really help women find this elusive “balance” much more easily.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, we can move on.  One thing that I really enjoyed about this activity is that it didn’t simply separate things into “work” and “life.”  Instead, it took a much more holistic approach and really focused on the many areas that add up to a fulfilling life: career, money, health, social life, family, personal growth (to include spirituality), and fun.  We rated each category from 1-10 to see where we felt things stand today.  This makes it very clear where your life may be out of balance.

I find that whenever I’m not living up to my own standards in a given area, it’s because I feel like I don’t have enough time.  In reality, it is more like this (just replace “internet” with “Orange is the New Black marathon”):

March 08_Pic 1

The truth is, I don’t have it all figured out. I find that I particularly struggle in the “health” category because I routinely ignore my own good advice.  It’s also OK if everything isn’t always working out like you’ve planned.  Sometimes certain areas just have to take priority over others.  The point is to just be aware of how you’re spending your time so that you can create your own version of success.

What tips do you have for maintaining balance?

March 08_Pic 3

DIY Hand Salve

DSC_0897

Lauren and I seem to be on the same page this week; desperately in need of hand lotion. I suffer from awful hand eczema. Seriously guys, its gross and painful and awful. In general I have become pretty good at keeping it in check. The past couple weeks have become of a perfect storm for one of my worst flare-ups. It was a combination of washing my hands non-stop because everyone was sick, the bitter cold weather we have been experiencing and the lovely timing of my cycle.

Every. single. finger. cracked.

Ugh, it was the worst. I couldn’t put my hands in water because it was so painful, which is impossible since I have small menace running around my house. I tried all my usual go-to lotions: Working Hands Hand cream, nipple cream (normally, this will heal anything) and coco-butter. Nothing worked, my fingers continued to crack open. Finally I remembered I pinned a hand salve recipe on pinterest – from this site. I decided to bust it out. I tweaked it based on what I had in my house.

I started using it on Sunday.

Sweet Jesus guys, it worked. I haven’t had anymore fingers split open and the split ones are healing up. I didn’t take before and after pics because it was gross and I care about your eye sight. You’re welcome. Try it out and let me know if it works for you!

Hand Salve

Ingredients

8 Tablespoons Shea Butter

2 Tablespoon Avocado Oil

2 Dropperful Vitamin E Oil

20 Drops Lavender Essential Oil

20 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

Directions

1. Place Shea Butter and avocado oil in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir gently until completely melted.

DSC_0901

2. Carefully remove the bowl from heat. Stir in Vitamin E Oil and Essential Oils

DSC_0906

3. Place mixture in a 4oz jar ( I used two 2oz jars).

DSC_0909

4. Place the cream in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow it to firm up.

Enjoy!

Kitchen Staples

DSC_0836

Last week I wrote that we were in transition.  After being sick, Peanut immediately went into a sleep regression. For almost a month we existed on a mere couple hours of sleep each night. We are through it and now I officially have a walker. He has transcended to a whole new level of menace. Can I also just mention that when I read all the baby stuff before Peanut was born, no one ever mentioned sleep regressions! They wear me down every time but Peanut always comes out of it with some kick-ass new skill.

Onwards friends! So I have been reading Lauren’s organization posts and it has inspired me to get organized as well. So I cleaned out my fridge and pantry! Just kidding, I have a toddler. I just stared and tried to use the force to make it happen. When that didn’t work I just grabbed the girl scout cookies and closed the door. Her posts make me want to be more organized though. So that’s a start.

I when I was making my grocery list this week, I realized it was mostly staple items I was repurchasing. With the weather being crappy we haven’t been going out to the store every day but making meals from the basics we always have on hand. So I wanted to make this post about some of the staples I always keep in the house.

I love having these basics always on hand. Sometimes I see a recipe online or just decide I want to make something on whim. Having these ingredients in the house makes it easier. There are some other items that we usually have on hand that I didn’t include but they are pretty specific to the type of foods we usually cook.  Below is a handy list with the basics.

Pantry Staples PicWhat kind of staples do you always keep in your house?

Cranberry Scones

DSC_0828

We are in transition. Transition to what I am not 100 percent sure.

I actually wrote this post at 3 am. Sadly I wrote it in my head and I cant remember half of what I wanted to say. Everyone in our house is finally feeling better and that is something to celebrate. Peanut is walking more than crawling these days. That is something to celebrate…I think. He also has a new word, duck. If I have your cell phone I have probably sent you the video. I have been annoyingly sending it to everyone. Sorry not sorry. Seriously, its adorable and I am totally not biased.

We have been buying scones from Panera. It started as one random scone and has really spiraled out of control. When I was trying to decide what to make this week {B} suggested I try scones so we can stop buying them. I’m not going to lie, my scones are way better than Panera’s. Plus there is a choose your own adventure in the middle of the recipe! Unfortunately, I forgot to start taking pics until halfway through the process. My bad, guys.

Peanut was my helper today.  I wore him and he bopped me in the back of the head with a wooden spoon. It was…fun?

Scones

1 3/4c Flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

5 tablespoons unsalted frozen butter

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

1/2 of fruit, candy, whatever mix-in you like; you do you

Optional: Powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. Add all dry ingredients to a processor and pulse a times to mix.

2. Either chop up butter and add it in or if you have a grate the butter and add to dry ingredients.  Pulse a few times until butter is incorporated.

3. Measure out cream. Add egg yolk to cream and beat a times to mix up. Add egg/cream mixture to dry ingredients.

4. Pulse until everything is incorporated. The dough will look a little crumbly.

DSC_0811

5. Add in your favorite mix-in. We used dried cranberries. (I would be totally lying if I didn’t that I stared at the Health bar crumbles for a long, long time. Next batch.) Pulse one or twice to mix a little. You don’t want to overmix

DSC_0815

6. This next step is a choose your own adventure! You have two options:

A. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 in thick. Use a biscuit cutter or cup to cut out circles of dough

B. Just grab a small amount of dough and make a ball.

(You can guess which I choose. Perfection has never been my strong suit)

DSC_0818

7. Let the dough rest on the pan for about 15 min. Then bake for 15 min.

8. Dust with lightly with powdered sugar.

Korean Oxtail Soup

DSC_0741

Is this week over yet? If not, I quit anyways. I’m done. I’m not here for it.

Lets have a little run down of this week, shall we? Peanut got the stomach flu, the next day my wife got the actual flu, the next day Peanut came down with the flu, we had a couple days of everyone on antibiotics and no sleep. Finally we got a night of complete sleep. Yay! Then Peanut started teething again. Guys, I’m exhausted. My brain has officially quit.

So in the middle of this madness I made Korean oxtail soup. This soup is delicious. There are also tons of health benefits and it’s also really simple to make. The only downside – it takes time. But it’s so worth it! It takes my mother in law 3 days to cook. It took me about 4 hours mostly because I’m lazy. I know what you are thinking, there is no way you going to spend this much time on one recipe. Just try it! Or come to my house and I will make it for you and after you’re done singing about how it is giving you life, you are going to run home and make it. It will fill your soul.

Korean Oxtail Soup

Ingredients:

3-4lbs Oxtail

4 Large cloves of  garlic

salt and Pepper to taste

Optional: Green onion and turnips or Korean radish

Directions

1. Trim the excess fat off the oxtail

2. Place the meat in a bowl with enough water to cover.

3. Let it soak for 1-2 hours – changing the water after one hour

4. Drain the meat and place it in a large pot with about 16 cups of water.

5. On high heat, bring the pot to a boil. Skim any impurities that rise to the top.

6. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 hours.

7. After 3-4 hours, remove oxtails from water, place in a bowl and cover. Skim the water again and place the pot in the refrigerator overnight.  (Also put the oxtails in the refrigerator.)

8. The next day, all the fat with be solidified on top – Skim it off.

9. Place the oxtails, garlic and thinly sliced radish in to the broth. On high heat bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 min.

10. Serve with sliced green onion. Allowing each person to add salt and pepper their own bowls.

Tip: We like to make white rice and add it the soup when serving.